About the Art
The works of art in The Art of Clouds interactive presentation are mainly 19th Century landscape paintings from Europe and North America. Paintings were selected that feature clouds prominently and that represent a variety of cloud types. There are, of course, many other paintings (as well as other forms of art) that depict clouds. If time allows, you may choose to allow students, especially those in upper grades, to research other landscape paintings that feature clouds.
Dutch artists made some of the first landscape paintings that depicted the natural world without fantasy and mythological or religious ties. By the 18th Century, natural landscape painting was becoming more popular and common in England, France, and Italy. In the 19th Century, metal tubes were invented that kept paints from drying out and allowed artists to make paintings outdoors in the landscape rather than in a studio. This led to the Realism movement in which the landscape was depicted as accurately as possible. And it eventually led to the Impressionist movement in which artists sought to capture the subtleties of light and mood. A group of new American landscape painters also became well known in the 19th Century. Today landscape painting is very popular and very diverse. Landscapes are made in a variety of media and with a variety of artistic styles.
About Clouds and Cloud Identification
Clouds are made of tiny water droplets or ice crystals that are suspended in the atmosphere. Clouds form when pressure decreases and water vapor in the atmosphere condenses on little particles of dust called condensation nuclei.
There are a variety of different types of clouds. They are typically classified based on two criteria:
- Their shape:
- Puffy clouds with distinct edges
- Uniform and flat clouds
- Wispy and thin clouds
- Their altitude in the atmosphere:
- High-altitude (at the top of the troposphere)
When both of these criteria can be observed in paintings, the cloud can be identified. Visit the UCAR Center for Science Education Cloud Gallery for more information about the variety of cloud types.
Elementary GLOBE provides an in-depth exploration of cloud types through a storybook and hands-on activities appropriate for grades K-4.
The S'COOL Project involves students (ages 5-20+) in real science, making and reporting observations of clouds to assist in the validation of NASA's CERES satellite instruments.
Activity developed by Lisa Gardiner of the UCAR Center for Science Education for NESTA in 2008 and revised for the UCAR Center for Science Education in 2013.